Rob Bagg? Bakari Grant? Chad Owens too?
Man, cut down day SUCKS!
It doesn't matter how much a fan prepares or rationalizes the changes to their beloved football team - these changes shock you. Sure, the Riders *had* to cut players to get down to the regulation 46 man roster and the Riders brass have far more expertise as my own and far more tools in hand to make these decisions than I do and for that I am thankful because it has to be the hardest job in sports. I cannot imagine how hard it must have been to tell Rob Bagg he was no longer a Roughrider - the only CFL team he'd ever played with in his career. The same goes for Chad Owens whose off season training had been featured on The Grind. Bakari Grant may be the hardest one to swallow since he was coming off a 1000 yard year.
We love these guys. We feel like we have a relationship with them. They play for our favourite team and they've entertained us. So why can't we be happy for them? Be happy and celebrate that they were on OUR team in the first place instead of relishing in their demise.
Last week at Green and White Day I am ashamed to admit when Chad Owens came over to sign my BEL13VE tee shirt I felt a bit weak in the knees. He looked me in the eyes and smiled. Maybe he recognized me from one of the other 2 times I'd been lucky enough to meet him. Aren't we blessed as CFL fans to be able to meet these athletic idols!THANK YOU RIDER NATION. ~ Rob Bagg
Some other tidbits from Green and White Day. It was pretty hysterical when Charleston Hughes set down his helmet to sign autographs and Caleb Holley thinking it was a fans signed it. That still makes me chuckle. The more I see of Charleston Hughes the more I am appreciating that he came to be on the Green and White this year. He told me he's looking forward to sacking Bo Levi and I told him to hit him hard. He quipped "I might even take a fine."
As most of the players met with fans they asked how we are and said thanks for coming out. When Ed Gainey came to me along the fence line of SMF Field I said "So you're going to get 10 interceptions this year?" "No", he stated. "Sixteen". I LOVE IT!
So we get to have all these amazing experiences with these CFL players and it totally and completely endears us to them. Does that relationship mean they should get to play forever?
“We certainly are appreciative of all the people who watch our games,” Jones said. “You have to have fans in order to have a league. At the same time, you have to be willing to make hard decisions. If you start letting the media or somebody else’s opinion on the decision that you made affect you, you end up being weak.” ~ Chris JonesIn an interview with the Leader-posts Murray McCormick Rob Bagg talked about an ankle injury he had at Training Camp in Saskatoon and he decided to continue on instead of resting up. He said that probably wasn't a smart thing to do. We only do what we think is best at the time, right? I'm in no way saying his career was over but sometimes these decisions of when not to play have to come from other people. Is Chris Jones at fault for having a role in which he's paid to put a viable team on the field in order to try to win the fans a championship?
Some people (when scrolling through the Twitter pages) appear to be fans of the players and seem to prefer their favourite players be kept over the betterment of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. I just fail to understand that mentality and I feel like I've been preaching this same story since 2015/16. When Chris Jones arrived in Riderville he cut an enormous amount of players and while some did go on to be signed with other teams many did not and when you look around the league the ONLY player still on a roster is Weston Dressler who has also spent every season banged up. There is a time to move on and if you don't evolve and continue to want to improve you will end up being weak and you will not win and there will not be any championship dreams.
The 2017 Roughriders football season ended in the East Division final losing to the team, the Toronto Argonauts, who would go on to win the Grey Cup. For some that still equals no wins so what difference does it make. Well for this fan it makes a world of difference to play into the post season or miss it completely. It's the difference of a 3-15 season or 10-8 with Eastern Semi-final and Eastern Final games. Of course I want to win it all! But, I can also see that we aka The Riders, always need to be adding faster talent and often that means younger talent and that also means bidding some of our favourites adieu. While our team is doing this, every CFL team is doing it and the Riders have to keep up or surpass with what is going on around the league.
I am a fan of the team with the name across the front of the jersey...not the back. It's not about individuals. It's about a team and putting the BEST team on field for 2018.
I wish all the players leaving their respective teams well. To Chad Owens, Bakari Grant and especially Rob Bagg, we will not forget what you've sacrificed for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Even though you won't be on the field for us any longer - you will be forever in our hearts and an integral part of Rider Nation.